The European Union has worked since its foundation to achieve border integration. Nevertheless, the creation of new borders and the strengthening of existing ones still occurs, especially within cities. Now that national borders are more permeable and less confining than ever due to globalization, the strongest conflicts are related to urban space.

A case in point is Nicosia, the divided capital of Cyprus, the country that presides the European Union from July until December 2012. Divided cities are both cohabitation laboratories and battlegrounds. Journalist  portray the day-to-day reality of people living in Nicosia (Cyprus), Belfast (Northern Ireland), Mitrovica (Kosovo) and Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina).

What these cities have in common are borders that were born from conflict. In each, social, ethnic and religious collectives feel that their community in those territories should be exclusive. Even so, there are also members who would like to overcome the past and define a common future, beyond differences.

The project will be divided into four parts:

1. Nicosia
The stories of Greek and Turkish Cypriots who recently have recovered bodies of relatives missing since military clashes in the 60’s and 70’s, a portrayal of political and social life within the temporary European Union capital.

2. Belfast
Certain elements of the Protestant-Catholic conflict have the potential to generate constructive dynamics that could overcome recurrent violence. This is illustrated through the accounts of former IRA soldiers making their living nowadays thanks to “Troubles tourism”, as well as the Catholic and Protestant urban artists known as the Peace Walls painters.

3. Mitrovica
Mitrovica’s bridge on the Ibar River has become not just a physical symbol of the clash between Albanian and Serbian communities, being the place where some Serbian teenagers vent their frustration through violence, but also a metaphor of division for the entire city. This part tells the story of these youth, known as the “bridge generation”, and the work of one organization that strives for reconciliation through music.

4. Mostar
Croatian Catholics and Bosnian Muslims aged 16 to 25 are the first generation to have grown up since the Balkans War. Their expectations, goals, opportunities and values often reveal the conflict between the two “Mostars”. This city is an example of the strategies taken to foster coexistence. The Ottoman bridge of Mostar, for instance, destroyed in the war, has been rebuilt. It remains to be seen if the same can be done for community integration.

Team members

Angelo Attanasio

Angelo Attanasio is a freelance journalist who mostly writes for newspapers and magazines in Spain, Italy and on an international level.

Marco Ansaloni

Marco Ansaloni is an Italian photo journalist living in Spain.

A working grant of € 6,000 allocated on 2/07/2012.

need resources for your own investigative story?

Journalismfund Europe's flexible grants programmes enable journalists to produce relevant public interest stories with a European mind-set from international, national, and regional perspectives.


support independent cross-border investigative journalism

We rely on your support to continue the work that we do. Make a gift of any amount today.